January 14, 2009

Thursday, 1/15

Sun 5:50 (PDF only—see the PDF calendar pages at the right side of Cruciverb's Sun archives)
NYT 4:07
LAT 3:47

(updated at 10:30 Thursday morning)

Cool puzzle from Patrick Blindauer, this New York Times crossword. The theme is summed up by BREAK-IN at 38-Across in the center of the grid. There are four 14-letter answers that are broken in the IN:

  • 17- and 18-Across spell out JOSEPHI/NEBAKER, the ["J'ai Deux Amours" singer]. That parses as Josephine Baker, of course, but split apart in the middle of IN instead of between the two words.
  • 26-Across begins the [With 29-Across, tangerine] answer: MANDARI/NORANGE. Yum, mandarin oranges. When my nephew was little, he once asked for "oranges 'n' mandar."
  • 47-Across gives us [With 51-Across, wet-day wish], or RAINRAI/NGOAWAY. One demerit for having another IN within "rain, rain, go away."
  • 63-Across's clue is [With 63-Across, temporary setback], or STUMBLI/NGBLOCK.
It's an unusual theme, and Patrick sort of tipped his hand about the theme with those stark limbs of black squares running down the middle of the grid. The top- and bottom-most theme entries are joined by two pair of 7's apiece, which I like.

Favorite clues and answers:
  • BEGORRA is an [Irish interjection].
  • [Rice pad] is a DORM at Rice University, not a rice paddy.
  • ZENO of Zeno's paradox fame was a [Paradoxical fellow].
  • GAL PALS is a rather hideous phrase, but it's good in a crossword. Here, it's clued as [Baby shower attendees, often].
  • A [Can't-miss proposition] is a SURE BET.
  • [What causes Fred to be fired?] is the addition of the letter I, or AN I.
  • [High balls?] launched across the tennis court are LOBS. This is not to be confused with that guy who ended up hanging upside-down from a Vail chairlift, depantsed.
  • [Bazooka, e.g.] is this puzzle's sneakiest trap. Is it a big GUN? Nope, it's bubble GUM. 'Fess up, Blindauer: Was this your trap or Shortz's?
Tougher stuff:
  • I disregarded the abbreviation tag in [Part of some resort names: Abbr.] and tried SPA instead of SPR., short for Springs. Glenwood Springs, Saratoga Springs, Palm Springs?
  • [Extended vacationers may take them] clues SUBLETS.
  • [U.S.N. clerk: Abbr.] is YEO, short for yeoman.
  • [Viral inflammation, informally] is HEP, as in hepatitis A, B, C, or others.
  • ["The Jungle Book" wolf] is AKELA and NAOMI [renamed herself Mara, in Scripture].
  • I don't know what sort of movie Ruby is or was, but [Danny of "Ruby"] is AIELLO. Google to the rescue! (For slaking my curiosity about the movie, not for finding the answer while solving—not that there's anything wrong with that.) He played Jack Ruby in 1992.
Matt Ginsberg's Sun crossword, "Size Matters," is also cool. In three places, the usual black lines demarcating the white squares have been omitted. Square 33 is a 2x2 jumbo square, and it's to be filled with the word BIG, which is part of the four entries that intersect it (MISTER BIG, BIG TIME, BIGOT, WINS BIG). "Square" 30 is a vertical pair of squares containing the word TALL, which is part of three crossings. And "square" 57 is WIDE.

Favorite clues and answers:
  • [Person hired by a ball girl?] is a DRESSMAKER.
  • [Snowe job] is SENATOR, as in Sen. Olympia Snowe's job.
  • ["Like, for sure"] clues TOTALLY (one of the TALL answers).
  • [Magician's wand, e.g.] is just a PROP.
  • [Bowling surfaces] are LAWNS and not LANES if you're talking about lawn bowling.
  • Archie [Bunker, for example] is a fictional BIGOT.

Dan Naddor's LA Times crossword has a geographical trivia theme—American city names that end with -EE, all of them (I believe) of Native American origins. Here are the citEEs:
  • MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin, is the [Home of Miller Park]. That's the baseball park with the retractable dome that replaced Milwaukee County Stadium. I hear it's a lovely place to play or watch baseball, but I haven't seen the Brewers play at home since the County Stadium days. Corrugated fiberglass is not stylish.
  • KANKAKEE is the [Illinois birthplace of Fred MacMurray]. Kankakee was also the home to former Illinois governor George Ryan, who is...in federal prison for corruption. The Kankakee River was my dad's favorite fishing place.
  • TUSKEGEE, Alabama, was the [Training site for certain WWII airmen, first African-American fighter pilots]. Also, regrettably, associated with the government's syphilis studies in which African-Americans with syphilis went untreated. Definite stain on the government, through no fault of Tuskegee's.
  • TALLAHASSEE is [Florida State's city] as well as the state capital.
  • You know the phrase, "an Okie from Muskogee"? MUSKOGEE was the [Childhood hometown of actor Jack Oakie (which explains his stage name)]. I know him only from crosswords. Real name: Lewis Delaney Offield. He'd hardly ever be in a crosword with a name like Offield—good call.
  • CHICOPEE is a [Massachusetts city on the Connecticut River]. It doesn't seem to be famous for much, though sometimes it has held the title for the world's largest kielbasa, defeating rival Krakow, Poland.
  • KISSIMMEE is a [Florida winner of a 2008 All-America City Award], and Walt Disney World is located in or near it.
Clues I didn't get right away included the following:
  • [Movie parrot] is PAULIE. I never saw the picaresque 1998 movie, but must admire the fluorescent gutsiness of its poster.
  • [Midday event] is a NOONER. My dictionary defines it thus: "an event that occurs in the middle of the day, esp. an act of sexual intercourse."
  • STAKING is clued as [Boundary markers]. Deceptive plural clue!
  • [Where some pounds are spent] is LEBANON.